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CODE TALKER by Joseph Bruchac Kirkus Star


A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two

by Joseph Bruchac

Age Range: 10 & up

Pub Date: March 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-8037-2921-9
Publisher: Dial

Sixteen-year-old Ned Begay detested life in the Navajo mission school where he was sent. There, “anything that belonged to the Navajo way was bad, and our Navajo language was the worst.” However, in one of the greatest ironies in American history, when WWII broke out, Navajos—victims of the US Army effort to destroy them in the 1860s and the harshness of the mission schools in the 20th century—were recruited by the Marine Corps to use their native language to create an unbreakable code. Navajo is one of the hardest of all American Indian languages to learn, and only Navajos can speak it with complete fluency. So, Ned Begay joined a select group of Navajo code talkers to create one code the Japanese couldn’t break. Telling his story to his grandchildren, Ned relates his experiences in school, military training, and across the Pacific, on Guadalcanal, Bougainville, Guam, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. With its multicultural themes and well-told WWII history, this will appeal to a wide audience. (author’s note, bibliography) (Fiction. 10+)